The 2017 American Farmers & Ranchers Mutual Insurance Co. annual policyholder meeting and the Oklahoma Farmers Union State Convention is scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 17th-19th, at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center, 2501 Conference Drive, Norman, OK.
One Officer’s position, two Independent District Board of Director’s seats and one Agent Director board seat will be decided during this 112th Convention in addition to the newly added NW Agent Director seat and the State- wide Independent Director board seat. The Officers and Board of Directors’ seats up for election are: Secretary, Independent Director District 1, Independent Director District 4, Agent Director District 1, Agent Director District 3 and Independent State-wide Director.
At the close of the filing period there are 9 candidates; Officer Seat of Secretary currently held by Paul Jackson, Ringling; drew no opponent; Running for the NW Independent Director District 1, Currently held by Terry Peach, Mutual; opponent Eric Bilderback, El Reno; SE Independent Director District 4, currently held by Bob Holley, Antlers; opponents David Christ, Wewoka and Larry Austin, Madill; Agent Director District 3, John Ogden, Muskogee and Garrett Barnett, Tahlequah. New Board seats: Agent Director District 1, Kyndell Nichols, Ringwood, drew no opponent; Independent State-wide Director, Mason Mungle, Norman; Harvey Schroeder, Frederick.
Northwest Independent Director District 1
Terry Peach, of Mutual, is the third generation to operate his family’s 1898 homestead. He is currently focused solely on farming/ranching and has ample time to devote to AFR/OFU.
Peach has had several pursuits during his career. He earned a bachelor’s in agricultural education from OSU and taught vo-ag at Cashion. He left his teaching career to go into business for himself, operating a feed business for many years. He also started Woodward Hull, an oil field supply company that his son, Te, now operates.
Professionally, Peach has served as the USDA Farm Service Agency State Executive Director and as the Oklahoma Secretary and Commissioner of Agriculture from 2003 to 2011, managing a budget of up to $50 million.
Peach has been an AFR/OFU member since 1998. He has participated in the organization’s speech contest and other youth activities, and has spoken at several AFR/ OFU conventions. He remains active in church, community and youth activities in Woodward County, and has served on his local school board and chamber of commerce board.
Peach has received the Honorary State and National FFA Degrees, the Oklahoma Wheat Commission Staff of Life Award, the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association Distinguished Service Award, the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts President’s Award and the USDA Distinguished Service Award. He has also served as president of the Southern U.S. Trade Association and the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
Terry is proud of his three sons and their families—Te, Bowdy and Joshua, their wives and six grandchildren.
Eric Bilderback was raised on a small farm near El Reno. He earned an Associate’s from EOSC, a Bachelor’s from OSU and a Master’s from SNU.
Bilderback has spent his career teaching at Chattanooga, Chickasha, Yukon and El Reno. He is very proud of his student’s accomplishments. In 2002, he was named the Career Tech’s Outstanding Young Agriculture Teacher of the Year.
Bilderback also served as the Agriculture Department Head at Redlands Community College. He managed the progressive program’s 20 employees and $1.5 million dollar budget. During his tenure, enrollment grew by 125%.
Bilderback has served as an Oklahoma Career Tech Ag-Ed Specialist. He supervised 95 teachers in SE Oklahoma, and was a liaison between school administration and the state department.
Bilderback was elected to the AFR/OFU Board of Directors in February 2011. He served as the Compensation Committee Chairman and was a member of the Audit and Building Committees. As committee chairman he led the search for a new CEO who was hired to bring stability to the company. Those three years also saw the sale and subsequent purchase of a new building, along with a new outline of business management strategies, accompanied by great weather that contributed to AFR’s current condition.
Bilderback teaches in El Reno where he is a member of the Masonic Lodge, Sirloin Club, OCA, and Heaston Church. Eric and his wife Shelly have been married for 19 years and have one daughter, Lauren.
Northeast Agent Director District 3
John Ogden, a rancher from Oktaha, has been involved in an AFR/ OFU leadership capacity for many years, including service as Vice-President and Director on the Executive Board from February 1978 to February 1988 and again from 2001 to 2011.
He and his wife, JoAnn, have been long time AFRMIC agents and have been active in the Muskogee County and Local AFR/ OFU chapter serving as a County Board member for 40 years while JoAnn served as County President.
Ogden has been owner/agent of the Ogden Insurance Agency in Muskogee from January 1976 to present. He was also the owner/agent of the Ogden Insurance Agency in Haskell, where his duties included heavy client contact and sales.
Ogden has served as Executive Director of the Muskogee County Community Action Foundation, where he wrote and administered various grants for low income families. Ogden owned and Operated Muskogee Overhead Door Company until selling it in 1992. He became Branch Manager of Rocket Freight Lines after having worked there as a driver for three years. He was Store Manager for McAdams Pipe and Supply in Muskogee and worked as a construction engineer for ODOT.
Ogden attended Connors State College and Bacone College. Also, during his lifetime of public service, he has served on the Governor’s task Force for Small Business, and as a Board Member of W.I.S.H. He is past President of Teamsters Union Local 516. He is a member and has served as a Deacon in the Assembly of God Church.
Garrett Barnett manages Celeste Looney Insurance in Tahlequah, with his wife and co-owner, Brandi. He attended his first AFR convention when they began dating and later asked for her parents’ blessing in marriage at an AFR convention in 1997. Barnett became an agent when he joined the third-generation family business in 2009.
He received his BBA at the University of Oklahoma with a major in Management Information Systems (MIS) in 1996. He entered the computer field when most businesses were beginning to realize the necessity of a presence on the Internet. Garrett worked the next 12 years at Hertz Car Rental. He led the team that set up reservation centers in Australia, Canada, and the United States. Then, in 2001 Barnett assumed management of the Internet Systems and Design team for hertz.com. In 2007, he moved to corporate headquarters in New Jersey. He chose to leave in 2008 in favor of raising his young family in small town Oklahoma where public schools, 4-H and FFA are strong.
When Barnett joined Celeste Looney Insurance in January 2009, the economic crisis was in full swing and AFR discovered that they were in a very tenuous financial position. As AFR recovered from its volatile situation, he recognized AFR had unrealized potential. With the help of technology and advances in procedure, he believes we can preserve our AFR heritage while moving prudently into the future.
Garrett attends Life Church, along with the joys in his life: Brandi, Maximus (8) and Alexandra (5).
Southeast Independent Director District 4
Bob Holley was born and raised in rural Southeast Oklahoma on a small farm in the Pickens community.
Family enterprises include beef cattle, market hogs and timber with the principal off-farm income from timber harvesting for Choctaw Lumber Company later known as Weyerhaeuser Company.
His education was from Clebit, Oklahoma, then Battiest, graduating in 1957 in Broken Bow, Oklahoma.
He received an Associate’s Degree in Agriculture in 1959 from Eastern Oklahoma A&M, Wilburton, and graduated with a BS Degree in Vocational Agriculture Education from OSU in 1961. Later that fall he completed one semester toward his Master’s Degree.
After employment as a Vocational Agriculture Instructor for two terms at Wickes, Arkansas High School, he began working in 1965 as Assistant County Supervisor with USDA, Farmer’s Home Administration (FMHA) in Pushmataha County in Antlers, Oklahoma where the agency made and serviced various types of loans.
Upon promotion to County Supervisor in 1968-69, he transferred to the Choctaw County Of ce in Hugo, Oklahoma where he served until 1979. After a promotion to District Director, he transferred to Atoka, Oklahoma where he supervised a minimum of 10 counties until retirement in July 1992. Holley has used his years of experience with FMHA financial planning, district farm loan portfolio management and bank board experience to assist him in helping AFR double its surplus to $70 million.
Bob is married to wife Norma, has three children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandson. He has resided on their ranch in the Nelson community for almost 40 years producing hay, beef cattle and timber. He is a member of First Baptist Church with his priorities being God, Family and Country in that order.
David H. Christ was born in Shawnee, OK. He Graduated from Wewoka High School. After high school Christ joined the U.S. Army serving six years. After his service he continued his education at Oklahoma State University, getting his B. A. in Agricultural Education and followed with his M. A. in Agriculture. He taught at Cushing High School for seven years. Christ left Cushing and returned to Wewoka to take his father’s position teaching Agriculture in 1982. Christ taught Agriculture to students for 38 years. He retired from teaching in 2013.
Christ is a member of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association and the Hughes County Cattlemen’s Association. He is a life member of the American Angus Association. Christ serves on the Farm Service Agency Board for Seminole and Hughes County. He is a member of the National Association of Agricultural Educators. In 1994, Christ designed cattle feed troughs for his ranch, little did he know, it would turn into a business distributing in seven states. In 1996, he received the Entrepreneurship 101 Award, For Outstanding Leadership in the Field of American Business Creativity & Entrepreneurship from Ohio State University.
David and his wife, Sheryl resides north of Wewoka on Angus Valley Ranch established in 1955. They own and lease approximately 1,000 acres and run approximately 90 mother cows. They bale around 600 acres every summer.
Larry Byrd Austin
Larry Byrd Austin is the CEO of Crown Lubricants Inc, an oil distribution company he started in June 2012 and grew to a company with revenues of 8.5 million today. His favorite responsibility as the CEO at Crown is developing and maintaining relationships with customers. Prior to his current position, he had 37 successful years in sales. He won multiple awards including “Most New Accounts” and “Highest Sales”.
Austin was born in Chickasha, OK on February 10th, 1952. He spent his early childhood in Bradley, OK working on their family ranch harvesting wheat and then later moved to Oklahoma City where he attended high school at US Grant and then went on to attend the University of Oklahoma. He is proud to call himself a lifetime Oklahoman.
Larry is married to Patty Austin, has three children and nine grandchildren. His hobbies include spending time with his family, attending/watching any OU sporting event, hunting and fishing. He is a member of the First Baptist church in Madill.
At-Large Independent Director
Mason Mungle’s roots began and remain in agriculture. He was a partner in the family dairy farm at Atoka, Oklahoma, and is still involved with a cow/calf operation on the farm. He graduated from Atoka High School and was in FFA earning the Chapter, State and American Farmers degrees, and served as a State Officer. He has been an OFU member and insured for over 40 years. Mungle was a member of the first class of the Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program and has a Bachelor and Master Degree from Oklahoma State University in animal science.
Mungle served as director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission working with Conservation districts in Oklahoma from 1986-1997. He served on numerous state and national committees dealing with soil, water and rural development.
Mungle worked for OFU/AFR in Coop Development and Legislative Affairs from 1997 to 2007. Duties included managing programs and legislative activities at the state and national levels for agriculture, rural and insurance issues. He was active with Farmers Union youth programs -- judging speech contests, speaking at camps and general program support.
Mungle served as president of Farmers Royalty Company until retirement in 2016. Farmers Royalty Company was established in 1928 as Farmers Union Cooperative Royalty Company. He is on the board and past state president of OK NARO and serves on the board of the Oklahoma Agriculture Mediation Program. He is a member of McFarlin Methodist Church, Norman.
Mason and his wife Renee, have three children and 3 grandchildren.
A native of Frederick, Oklahoma, Harvey Schroeder has been actively involved in a family farming operation all his life where he currently grows cotton and wheat.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from SWOSU.
He serves as a Deacon at the First Baptist Church in Frederick. Schroeder is currently employed as the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Cotton Council. This has given him a special opportunity to represent the cotton and agricultural industries for Oklahoma and region in all the facets of the cotton industry.He is also on the Board of Directors of Cotton, Inc. and the National Cotton Council.
He is presently serving as Chairman of the Pesticide Advisory Council of the Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture. In addition, on the federal level, he is a member of the USDA Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee on Trade for Tobacco, Cotton and Peanuts. He is on the Dean’s Advisory Committee at OSU serving as a member of the Tillman County Board.
He has served on the AFR’s Policy Committee and chaired that committee, been a delegate to our state convention the last few years as well as serving as a member of the NFU Policy Committee and a delegate to the national convention this past year.
Harvey has been married to his wife Joyce for 50 years, have two sons and five grandchildren. Both sons graduated from OSU.
Northwest Agent Director District 1 - Unopposed
Kyndell J. Nichols has been a lifelong AFR/OFU member. After graduation from Oklahoma State University with a BS Degree in Ag Economics and Accounting, he returned to the family farm to work with his father and with his mother in the insurance and real estate business. Nichols has been an agent for AFR/OFU since 1985. He now runs the farming operation and has expanded a registered Hereford cattle herd with the help of his two sons, Levon and Lathan.
As an active AFR member, he has served on the Policy Committee, attended Washington DC fly-in and participated in a Special Advisory Committee to the Board of Directors. He was appointed by AFR/OFU to serve on a special committee formed by then Governor Keating, to study the state’s ability to handle an infectious disease attack. He has served as a Local officer, County Board member and has been President of the AFR Northwest Area for over 20 years.
As an agent, Nichols is serving on the Agents Association Executive Council and served on a special committee appointed by the Board to review the agent’s contract.
Nichols has been an active leader in his community for 25 years serving on the County Fair Board and is a Charter Member of the Ringwood Lions Club. He was a member of the Oklahoma Hereford Association Board and served as President.
Kyndell was married for 26 years to wife Michelle who also was an agent for AFR/OFU and have two sons, Levon and Lathan Nichols.
State Secretary - Unopposed
Paul Jackson was elected AFR/OFU Secretary/Treasurer in 2013 to fill an unexpired vacancy and was unopposed and re-elected in 2014. His duties include board minutes, custody of records, bylaws, election oversight, membership services, convention management, committee appointments and archivist. In a prior role as Farm & Cooperative Programs Director, he led organization activities, adult and youth leadership and legislative fly-ins to Washington. A 22-year AFR/OFU employee, he holds Property, Casualty, Health and Life insurance licenses.
Most recently he served as AFRMIC interim CEO for 10 months while continuing Secretary duties.
A fourth-generation farmer/rancher, Jackson has a diverse agricultural background, including cow-calf, stocker cattle, wheat, rye, peanuts, cotton, hay and hogs.
Jackson serves on the boards of Love County Farmers Union & Local 741, Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program, Oklahoma 4-H Foundation and Midwest Shows Scholarship Program. He is a community volunteer, fireman, assistant pastor and church treasurer, and member of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, Love County Historical Society, and Oklahoma Society of Association Executives.
Jackson chaired the NFU Policy Committee, served on the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Planning Committee, National Fire Ant Task Force and was appointed to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board.
Jackson worked in Washington, D.C., on rural development and agriculture issues for an Oklahoma congressman and was the National Rural Water Association Professional Programs Director.
Jackson earned a degree in agricultural communications from OSU and has completed Leadership Love County and Oklahoma Agricultural Leadership Program. He and his wife, Kim, have two daughters, Courtney and Sarah.